3 Perfect Folding Electric Bikes for Commuters
Folding bikes really are the only practical solution when there is nowhere safe and convenient to store your bike – either at home, at your destination – or while riding a train between the two.
Folding bikes have come a long way since originally being introduced. They are now much easier to fold and to carry. The addition of an electric motor brings both advantages and disadvantages.
The disadvantage is that electric bikes are heavier than normal bikes because of the addition of a motor and the battery.
There is not much that can be done about the weight of the electric motor. With batteries the simple trade off is weight for range. The more range you want, the larger and heavier battery you will require.
One advantage of an electric motor on a folding bike has to do with wheel size and gearing.
To fold up small so as not to be cumbersome, folding bikes tend to have smaller wheels ranging from 20” to 26”. Small wheels mean a bumpier ride and awkward gearing. It can be difficult to support both good speed and efficiency on the flat with easier pedalling when going up a hill.
Power assistance largely solves the gearing problem. (Note: Unfortunately rear hub motors do not solve this problem completely.)
Below we recommend specific electric bikes that have some features that may be of relevance to you. Click here to jump immediately to these recommendations. Or, continue reading to understand the thinking behind these recommendations.
The first question you need to ask about a folding bike is how much is weighs. This is important because likely you be lifting it up and carrying it frequently.
Some holding bike can be rolled while folded - either behind you like carry-on luggage or in front like a baby pram. With these bikes, you may only be lifting your electric bike to climb steps.
The second question relates to how easy the bike is to carry. If you are carrying an object to your side (like a briefcase) the rules of thumb are that it should be:
no taller than 1/3rd your height, and
no thicker than about 10”.
If it is taller than this, it may scrape the ground. If it is thicker, it may rub against your leg. To compensation you will have to lift it up a bit, and lean a bit to that side - both of which make the bike substantially more tiring to carry.
The Brompton cycle (listed below) folds down to a size that you can conveniently carry to your side. Few other folding bikes fold this compactly.
Eovolt’s solution is to allow the wheel to rotate freely when the bike is folded, meaning that you can roll it in front you similar to a push chair for children . Obviously, if you have to carry such bikes up steps, doing so it a little more awkward.
1st Option - Brompton H2L 2 Speed Electric Folding Bike (£2,885)
Although at the top range of prices for electric folding bikes, the Brompton H2L is the only folding bike that Which? Magazine rated as a Best Buy. Not only was it one of the lightest electric bikes on the market (16.6 kg), but it is robust, folds easily (within 10 seconds) and compactly (56 x 58 x 27 cm), sports a high-quality smooth motor, and has good range.
The only criticism of this bike is that the control panel is not located on the handlebars, making switching assistance a bit more complicated.
The bike comes in two heights: 1015mm (M2L) and 1075mm (H2L) -- and comes in two gearings: 2-speed and 6-speed.
2nd Option - Eovolt Confort Electric Folding Bike (£1,997)
If the Brompton is out of your price range, the Eovolt Confort is an excellent alternative. It features larger wheels (20” instead of 16” on the Brompton) making for a slightly less effort, faster, and smoother ride. And it comes standard with 7-speed gearing.
In a clever touch, the battery is integrated into the seat post making charging much simpler.
Although rated 9.3 out of 10 by Bike Review magazine, it is slightly heavier (18 kg) and more cumbersome than the Brompton. When folded, it is noticeably larger (84 x 72 x 46 cm) making it make cumbersome to carry and to stow away.
3rd Option - Eovolt City One 16” Electric Folding Bike (£1,397)
Although perhaps the cheapest, reasonable folding e-bike on the market, the Eovolt City One weighs in at an impressively light 14kg. As with its bigger brother, this bike does not fold up as compactly as the Brompton (58 x 75 x 42 cm) and thus can be slightly cumbersome to carry or to stow away.
And it has a noticeable more restricted range: 31 miles - as opposed to twice that for its larger brother (62 miles) and 45 miles for the Brompton. With that said, this bike is very good value for money. Bike Review rates this bike as 8.4 out of 10 and customers rate is 4.6 out of 5.
Similar design feature to its older brother. The battery is integrated into the seat post making charging much simpler.
Frequently asked questions
Are folding bikes easy to carry?
Different brands of folding bikes fold differently. Brompton bikes are known for folding up small, but the issue is how far you need to carry your bike and where you intend to store it.
In the above descriptions we list the size and weight of each folding bke. We recommend you put a box on your bathroom scales and add books until you get the right weight. Then lift up that box to get a sense of how easy it is to carry.
Remember, of course, that folding bikes are intended to be carried like a briefcase and not like a box, but weight is a factor.
Will I get grease on my clothes from carrying my folding bike?
You shouldn't. Folding bikes are designed to fold so as to hide the chain and crank on the inside. Also, you should be carrying your folding bike like a briefcase. So, even if your bike has gotten a little dirty, it should not be rubbing against your shirt or blouse.
Are electric bikes heavy?
In essence, an electric bike is a traditional bike with an added motor and battery - both of which can be be a good few pounds. In addition, the power of the electric motor might require a sturdier frame, strong chain, etc.
An average (non electric) road bike might way 17-18 pounds (8 kg). A typical electric bike might weight twice that or more.
What are some common issue with folding bikes?
Folding bikes are more complex. So, they tend to be more expensive and more expensive to repair. Plus some people think they are easier to damage ... especially if you have an accident.
Folding bikes are a rougher ride than a normal bike, and without power assistance, slower than normal bikes.
Finally, some people find some folding bikes to be a little awkward to carry over longer distances.